Menu Of Life
Become A Fan

View My Stats blogarama - the blog directory Signup to Bukisa, Get Paid For Publishing your Knowledge!

The Boys Are Back In Town

It's Spring Break and my birds have returned to the nest. This event has serious implications to my wallet, my sleep pattern and my neighbors ear drums. For the last couple of months our house has been a sanctuary of calm, tranquil zen style living. Mufasa and I expunged meat from our lives and made a weekly pilgrimage to Wholefoods followed by my kitchen creations of vegetarian delights. The house stayed clean, laundry basket empty and our neighbors greeted us enthusiastically every time we crossed paths at the mailbox. This week all is chaos. The revolving door is once again operating, and cars (some with wheels bigger than any wheel has a right to be) fill the driveway and line our side of the street. The fridge is permanently empty despite my three bulk buys at Costco. The boys (for boys read carnivores) are permanently hungry despite my frenzied servings of giant burgers and monstrous steaks. The house is resonating to the 1000 decibel output of Easton's latest hit because I am the Drumma Mama and as every band mom knows rehearsals always take place at the drummer's house. 

As if that wasn't enough to make me consider Prozac I return from a stressful day at work to discover that my Pier 1 rug is now doubling as a Jiu-Jitsu mat for the twice daily wrestling matches. I am exhausted; I have to leave for the office an hour earlier than usual (in a false beard and glasses) because I cannot face encountering the neighbors and being berated for allowing my kids to lower the tone of 'The Cove'. To be fair this is probably just my paranoia because our neighbors have been incredibly tolerant for nine years and have never expressed anything but praise for the band's musical outpourings, however I live in fear of the day someone will snap and call the police. All the weight I lost while the boys were away has redeposited itself on my stomach, thighs and chin because I am constantly scoffing all the muffins, donuts and bagels that I am supposedly buying for THEM. I can't sleep properly because they are either IN (making too much noise) or worse OUT (making me restless till I know they are home safely - which is ridiculous because when they are away I don't worry about them at all.)

So why I am I so unbearably sad to see them leave? Probably because they are kind and loving and funny and when they are here the house is full of fun and laughter and interesting, creative young people who compel me to look at life in a less jaded fashion. Probably because they remind me that I am still a Mom and although it's the toughest job in the world it's also the most rewarding. My greying hair, expanding girth and saggy eye bags are a small price to pay for the realization that I am beyond proud of the young men they are becoming. As they head back to college (Genius) and fly out to perform (Rockstar) I will not dwell on how empty the house feels without them, I will throw out the Cheetos and head to Wholefoods to buy ingredients for my scallop risotto. When my husband gets home tonight he will walk into a peaceful paradise and greet a wife who has time to sit down and share a nice glass of Shiraz with him; Perhaps he will not feel quite as bereft as he did when he hugged his sons goodbye this morning.

Up In Despair

Traveling is such a joy these days. Every time I think I've cracked the system I am thwarted by some unexpected new security feature designed to make all our lives safer but somehow more miserable. I have honed my hand baggage down to the barest minimum. I've tried every possible combination and wasted ridiculous amounts of cash in sheer desperation at airport luggage shops, but now, finally I am the proud owner of a super dooper Samsonite 1910 Rollalong. You know the type - Where your laptop slides into a special compartment through a zipper at the top. There is ample room for my wallet, mobile phone, book and other essentials so I am now one of the only people in the security line who actually has just ONE piece of hand luggage. Of course that only makes me more irritated with the people in front of me who have not bothered to streamline their traveling paraphernalia. I mean HOW SELFISH!!! It's incredible how many people still can't count to three. One piece of hand baggage and one personal item = two items. Not three not five, TWO. Yes Madam your backpack does count and so does that huge plastic bag of duty free chocolates. 

Two weeks ago I was traveling to Europe and I had the misfortune to be in line behind a woman wearing those combat style pants with at least thirteen different pockets. She had objects that needed to be removed from EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. I am not a patient person at the best of times but luckily for her I avoid confrontation at all costs (the good old British stiff upper lip) but the anger levels of the passengers behind me were alarming to say the least. I began to wonder if the woman was an airport security plant designed to flush out people prone to air rage and carrying weapons. 

Next I had to suffer the humiliation of 'The Pat Down'  and the realization that as the TSA woman's hands froze at my midriff she was trying to work out if that bulge was ten pounds of explosives or ten pounds of fat. Then as we made eye contact her sympathetic nod as she acknowledged it was the latter. Fortunately she was a bit porky herself so I did not feel judged.

As my trip was for work I was traveling business class which (once you have cleared security) makes the whole thing somewhat bearable until a higher power decides to screw things up with the weather conditions. FYI Atlanta is not a good hub when its snowing. First sign of a flurry and the whole place disintegrates into chaos. Canceled flights, full hotels, lines of disgruntled people (struggling with far too much hand baggage) and crabby airline personnel trying to deal with it all. I couldn't face 24 hours of this and I had a mother waiting to spend a reunion weekend with me in Madrid (that's what happens when you try to mix business with pleasure) so I fought my way onto the first flight out - KLM to Amsterdam. 

An hour later, reclined in my lovely spacious seat smugly sipping KLM's excellent champagne I was forced to reconsider the wisdom of my choice when the Captain announced we were in a four hour holding pattern for wing de-icing. 

WING DE-ICING!!! OMG should we even be taking off in these adverse conditions? Are the Dutch the only ones brave (stupid) enough to try? Despite my abject terror I must have drifted off because I awoke some hours later from terrible nightmares about crashing planes (a regular feature of my air travel experiences) to discover us airborne and safe. 

Fast forward another sixteen hours of cubicle toilets, missed connections, airport food and overpriced internet and I arrived at destination Freezing Cold Madrid to discover my luggage was still in Atlanta. It was at this point I realized that the Samsonite 1910 Rollalong did not contain a change of clothing. 

And that my friends is why, in a sea of depressing black, brown and grey with my mental faculties somewhat impaired, I became the proud owner of this stunning yellow coat!


Driving Miss Crazy

Top of the list of stressful family situations must be teaching your teenagers to drive. Five months after Rockstar passed his test I progressed to the stage where he could leave the house without me becoming hysterical at the thought of never seeing him again. Of course I still had to remind him to fasten his seat belt, stay within the speed limit, not use his cell phone, not have the music too loud ("but Mom it helps me concentrate") and BE CAREFUL. Having suffered through a year of driving lessons with his mother, Rockstar now has a better understanding of why his father wants to kill me every time we go on a road trip. 

By the time son # 1 has graduated to the Mom Trusts Me in the Car level it is time for me to repeat the whole process with son # 2. Genius took up the challenge to have his mother institutionalized with great gusto. He was enrolled in Advanced Psychology that semester so every time he got behind the wheel I had to suffer a running commentary on all the mistakes the other drivers were making plus a lecture on various psychological disorders and how cognitive mapping is affected by stress. I wish I could say I had learned something but I couldn't focus due to being gripped by abject terror every time we approached a four way stop and he didn't appear to be braking. 

I made both boys drive for 18 months before taking their tests and Genius drove every single day of his 18 months. By the time he was let loose I was a gibbering wreck. Apparently you are supposed to stay awake until your teen driver returns to base so that you can keep tabs on what they're getting up to. How ridiculous, I go to bed at 8.30, the boys haven't even left at that point never mind come home. I trained myself not to worry when they forgot to call and gradually as time passed without incident my confidence in their driving abilities increased. However their patience level with my constant nagging advice did not.

Let me just clarify something here, I am a TERRIBLE passenger. I admit it, even though I don't like being the driver I hate not being the driver even more. My husband and I rarely argue but the harmonious state we have created in the home does not extend to the car. I don't understand how two people can get into a vehicle madly in love and emerge from it 25 minutes later with one of them speed dialing the lawyer and the other one grappling in the glove compartment for a suitable weapon. I guess the combination of a driver who aspires to the formula one circuit with a partially blind neurotic wife (who is paranoid about road safety) riding shotgun, is a recipe for disaster. It didn't take us long to decide that despite the fact that we live together and work for the same company we would be a lot happier if we did the daily commute separately. 

Four years on my sons still have to tolerate my "WATCH THAT CAR" panics when they have the misfortune to be be driving me anywhere; but I've noticed during my Mom's annual visits that she is just as nervous when I'm driving her as I am with my kids driving me. So there you are boys, it's Granny's fault and no doubt in years to come you will be barking the same manic commands to your little darlings.


Designer Dramas

I am one of those strange people who actually enjoys going to work. Aside from the fact that in this economy I am beyond grateful just to have a job, I have the honor to work with some of the worlds most talented and (more importantly) amusing designers. If your co-workers have monikers like Sparkle Barbie, Twinkie Ho and Poochie Santarita your day is unlikely to be dull. Add into the mix a ton of inspiring international design projects (all with impossible deadlines) a smorgasbord staff of 30 and a boss that calls me his Zulu Princess (I was born in South Africa) and it becomes apparent that my working environment is quite colorful before we even start designing. My department is FF&E aka The Fluffies. We are the girls (sorry Marc you are one of the girls that's why we called you Twinkie) who choose the fabrics, furniture, light fixtures and other essentials and then produce all the associated documentation. I know this sounds like a cushy job but trust me, our lives are extremely stressful. The only way we get through the working week with our mental and physical health intact is a ton of laughter and a stash of good chocolate. BTW ( in case the owners are reading this) we also work VERY VERY hard. 

This week the horizon brightened with the arrival of Snow White. This girl is drop dead gorgeous, she really has it ALL. The long black hair, perfect skin (as white as snow) and beautiful red lips. Needless to say it wasn't long before the seven dwarfs were lining up to do her bidding. As if by magic Sleazy, Gropey, Humpy and Jock were available to set up her new workstation and get the computer connected to the server. Frumpy, Sappy, and Creepy hovered in the background, tools at the ready to deal with any emergency. Thanks guys, very sweet but please remember she already has a prince and the dwarfs are her FRIENDS. Fortunately Snow White isn't just eye candy, she is talented, intelligent, funny and will be an asset to our Fluffie group; ergo we withered old FF&E hags have also fallen in love with her and don't feel the need to offer her poisoned fruit.

Since I wish to keep my job I will refer to the company as Very Lucky Designs (pronounce welly wrucky as our main office is in Hong Kong and most of the projects are in China) or VLD. On the other side or the world is another team of VLD people (the yin to our yang) who have the misfortune of being a lot closer to the clients. Sometimes one of us is dispatched to HQ for an indeterminate period of time to help deal with the latest crisis. This is a lot more dangerous than it sounds especially when your return ticket is flexible or non-existent. Right before Christmas one of our Hong Kong staff was held hostage in China for several days - the ransom  a drawing package (yet another unrealistic deadline) to be delivered to a client who clearly needs to see a therapist asap. We all worked around the clock to “FREE RONALD!” and “GET RONALD HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!” It's amazing how motivated people can be for a worthy cause and I am happy to report that we met the deadline and our colleague was released unharmed. Just another average working week for the VLD justice league.



Home Is Where The Tart Is

I have a confession to make. Over the years I have shamelessly lured my children home with edible treats. I have boiled, stewed and baked my way into their hearts. There are several reasons for this:

1. I have Jewish Mother tendencies and therefore an overwhelming need to feed those I love.

2. My own Mom was a great cook but being divorced and working full time our family meals were few and far between.

3. I somehow felt validated when the boys turned up with ten friends in tow to demolish my creations.

Of course there have been numerous culinary disasters along the way, many nights when I've been crushed by their less than enthusiastic response to my ill advised experiments; but the proof is in the pudding and my Pavlovas have never failed to sell out seats at my dinner table. 

Now that my kids have (sort of) left home I've had to up the ante as they have a lot further to travel to break bread with us. Times had changed and I needed to add a new dessert to my repertoire; and so began the quest for perfect profiteroles. My mother loves to watch me cook and since she lives thousands of miles away I usually Skype her from my kitchen so that she can have a good laugh as I massacre a recipe or two (think Domestic Goddess on crack.) It's like my own cooking show with an audience of one.

The thing about cooking is that it's far from an exact science so no matter how closely you follow the instructions there is always an element of risk. Which is how after my beautiful, perfect choux pastry balls emerged from the oven and got stuffed with fabulous fluffy whipped cream (lots of oohs and aahs from my mother via the computer) and drizzled with divine chocolate sauce, my sons enthusiastically bit into them and then immediately spat them out screaming “OMG MOM!!!!! THESE ARE DISGUSTING ARE YOU TRYING TO POISON US?”

So what went wrong? Well it turns out I hadn't used the right chocolate to make the sauce and it was unbearably bitter. 

I am not a quitter so the following day I made them all over again (Mother once again riveted to her screen) me resplendent in my new Williams & Sonoma red apron (think Domestic Goddess on anti-depressants) but this time I used Ghirardelli milk chocolate baking chips for the sauce et voilla! It was really that simple, perfect profiteroles and big hugs from the boys as they left for Palm Beach International Airport with full tummies and smiles on their faces.

Profiteroles (2nd attempt)

Perfect Pavlova. (Photo by Chris Martin who has eaten quite a few of these.) 


Flower Power

I am trying to improve my marriage by making an effort not to dwell on trivial issues. I am also working on anger management for the more serious transgressions like my husband crossing the threshold with yet another garage forecourt-style bouquet of chrysanthemums (which as you may know, I detest.) I was beginning to wonder if he actually had a death wish since I have told him so many times how much I truly despise them. However over lunch last Sunday I had an epiphany - my precious doesn't actually know what a flipping chrysanthemum is! Of course he didn't admit it there and then but my suspicions were confirmed later that night when I was the proud recipient of a beautiful bunch of lilies whereafter Mufasa confessed that as the florist was wrapping his original choices he had plucked up the courage to ask if any of them were chrysanthemums and was mortified to learn that they ALL were!

It just goes to show that even the most well intentioned act of kindness can turn into a disaster if you haven't done your homework. Seriously, we girls are not that hard to please but nothing will upset us quicker than feeling like our men have tuned us out or relegated what we are trying to say into the nagging category. The other night for instance, Mufasa was cleaning the dishes from dinner (he really is a treasure) when I specifically requested that he NOT put my new knives in the dishwasher. My new knives were a very expensive gift from my brother and are the first sharp knives I have ever owned. My cooking has improved no end since their arrival and my husband doesn't seem in the least concerned that I now have a set of effective weapons handy for PMS induced irrational episodes. So picture the scene the next morning when I opened the dishwasher and saw four of my new knives gleaming back at me. Since it was actually that time of the month I flew upstairs in an over-reactive rage and demanded to know if “you ever actually listen to a THING I say?” Mufasa was still half asleep and failed to realize the seriousness of the situation so unfortunately the whole thing got ugly rather quickly. voices were raised, tears were shed (because of course I am SO misunderstood) and it was at least an hour before we kissed and made up (after suitable sincere apology from husband.)

Two days later my husband had his sweet revenge when, on opening the dishwasher that I had previously loaded he discovered ALL the new knives happily nestled in the cutlery basket. That is one great big piece of humble pie that I am clearly going to be eating for several weeks or at least until he comes home with another bunch of chrysanthemums.


Real Men Don't Need Quiche

When I have the time and energy to do more than open a Stouffers Lasagne, I pride myself on being able to whip up a veritable gastronomic feast and expect due appreciation. It was on just such an occasion that having produced a delightful spinach and gorgonzola quiche (recipe below) that my husband took one large mouthful and said “What's this?”  In a tone which left no doubt that he thought it was absolutely revolting. 

Never one to over-react I leapt up from the table screaming like a banshee “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? YOU DON'T LIKE IT?!! IT'S WONDERFUL”

“I don't like gorgonzola” he admitted  “I've never liked gorgonzola.”

“Oh GREAT” I shouted (doing my Basil Fawlty impression) “so now you don't like garlic, raw onions, pastries, baked potatoes, nuts in chocolate, butter on your vegetables, anything in batter, chutney, ginger AND gorgonzola!”

Mufasa remained calm and picked at the salad on his plate while pushing his quiche to the side in a martyr like fashion. I was seized by a childish and overwhelming desire to tip the whole lot over his head but common sense prevailed and I stomped into the kitchen returning some minutes later with a replacement meal of fish fingers and baked beans. This was demolished gratefully, convincing me that I should reserve vaguely sophisticated food for my girl lunches.

Once satiated Mufasa was more than willing to apologize for his appalling and ungrateful attitude and to say he would fully understand if I never made quiche again.

Spinach and Gorgonzola Quiche

1 Pillsbury pie crust

24 oz  of  frozen spinach well drained

1 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1 cup grated sharp cheddar

6 eggs

2 tbsp. of heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste 

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Press crust into 9" pie dish and prick bottom and sides with fork

3. In a separate bowl combine defrosted spinach and cheeses and then spread mixture evenly in pie shell

4. beat eggs cream and seasoning and pour over top of pie/filling.

5. Bake @ 375 for 40 to 45 mins or until golden, set and puffed up.

Devour with a glass of  Sauvignon Blanc (if your husband doesn't like the quiche ignore him and finish the bottle)

395 Cals for one slice (6th of quiche)

Page 1 ... 15 16 17 18 19